To be a writer – must you be riddled with angst?

If the answer is yes then I’m an undiscovered and prolific writer. I worry about what I’m writing, what I’ve written and what I’m still to write. I will often put down a few hundred words, decide it’s rubbish and delete the lot. I’ll replace it with a similar slug of text which is often less good (and that’s being generous). I’ve had insufficient time to craft it,

I’ll try to avoid using phrases or descriptions included in my earlier draft. I’ll end up with something that’s different and equally unsatisfying to the version I had hours before. Eventually I’ll have a third, or forth, maybe  fifth attempt and realise that there was some merit in all of my earlier tries, I’ll pull them from the bin, delete the truly terrible bits and see if I can stitch a half decent story from the carcases.  This version truly is a monster, it’s a Frankenstein of a story, made up from the bits I’ve been able to salvage, but at least it’s somewhere to start. 

When I have a good monster, and it happens from time to time, I can begin to tidy it up. I’ll improve the stitching, we’ll move from one scene to another with seamless smoothness. Readers shouldn’t be able to tell that two sentences were plucked from versions with several iterations between. 

A little embellishment gives my creation it’s clothes. A character’s back story is explained, it helps the reader understand their motivation. We’ll see how person A is related to person B, why person C wants to kill them both, and how person D could be framed for the act. 

It takes hours, days, sometimes weeks, but eventually I’ll have something I can use. Either that or, and it happens more often than I like to admit, I dump it once and for all.

Such is the life of the writer. You spend hours creating something that nobody will ever read. It wasn’t quite right, not the right tone, not the right rhythm or not the right time for that text. The planets must be aligned before you release your monster into the world, once you’ve hit “publish” you’ll have very little control of it’s direction; and few opportunities for running repairs. There will always be the Beta versions out there somewhere, an early draft which highlights your inadequacy or lack of knowledge. 

So I polish, I refine and I rewrite. I take out any bits that may be offensive, delete sections which might drag me into court, anything that will slander or defame has to go. I check my facts and express them as clearly as possible. In short, I sterilise my beast. It started as something I’d be shy to put my name too, and now I’d let my maiden aunt read it; the one who didn’t become a nun, the life was too racy for her.

Anything else will never see the light of day, or not under my real name anyway.